Bataan (1943)

Bataan (1943), directed by Tay Garnett.

Watching Midway (2019) recently I was reminded of a little genre of WW2 films about the time soon after Pearl Harbor in those months when the US was losing the Pacific war. Those made soon after the actual events would include:

Bataan is another: assorted leftover troops are required to blow up a bridge and keep the Japanese from rebuilding it. This is to buy time for the main forces to retreat down the peninsula while waiting for rescue (which never came).

We get straight to the action with little prep time. The violence is more explicit than usual for this time. They walk out and shoot dead soldiers just to be sure, which reminds me of R. Lee Ermey in The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989): "Go out and kill the wounded; I don't want any surprises tonight".

Notable cast:

It is like The Lost Patrol (1934) where they are picked off one by one. I'll bet you can predict the final two. And then the last man standing. He's staying for the end and digs his own grave before going to Valhalla like the men in The Wild Bunch (1969).


The wikipedia article has a deliriously bad academic citation:


According to one historian, the film "successfully made white viewers aware ... of the inherent sadism in the American lynching ritual". By the 1940s, publications were able to mass-distribute photographs taken of hanged men, so there was a "rewriting of the respective relations of the black and the Asian to the white norm, as the film adjusted to a wartime context [which raised questions of integration]".

I don't know what film he was thinking of; it's delusional to read that into this one.

Available on DVD.